Showing posts from October, 2014

Cats, eh?

I hope you're sitting down. We're contemplating getting a cat. Yes, I know I'm allergic to cats, and I know it's a risk, but in more recent years I've had much less strong reactions and maybe, just maybe, given the fact that our house has very few carpets and is more or less open-plan, maybe I'd be OK. The rationale? Well with the sad demise of the guinea-pigs the girls feel the need of someone to love and cosset. (Love ME, girls! Cosset ME!) Now a dog would be great, but the problem with dogs is that when we go to the UK we'd need to find someone willing to look after the dog for several weeks. Hmmm. Or pay kennel fees. Hmmm. Pat suggested a hamster that would live in Catrin's room, but we tried that kind of thing before and the kids were woken up by the nocturnal antics of their little pets, who then had to live in the bathroom, the lounge, etc... A cat, with the natural independence and aloofness of their race, could happily wander off

Moments of geekery - 2

Inbox, from Gmail. I heard about it yesterday and thought I'd like to give it a try. Basically it's a small programme you use to view your gmail that groups it together into categories, like adverts, social media, finance, purchases, etc. You can define, rename and change your groups, or "bundles" and it enables you to prioritise according to the type of email. You can also write yourself little reminders and prioritise emails within their bundle. But for the moment you have to wait till Google invites you to try it. You can ask them for an invitation, but that's it. I asked. And thought no more about it. This morning my invitation came. And it's AMAZING!

Moments of geekery - 1

Wow! I am like SO EXCITED, it's AMAZING! No, but really, I am literally excited! You know that we meet in a restaurant on Sundays, and we don't have a piano or anything? We don't even have a guitarist just now, so we sing to the MP3 files from Christian Hymns 2. I have loaded them all onto my little iPad and I play them through a bluetooth speaker. That's great, and it works just great, blasting out from the corner like an invisible pianist. But sometimes the recording is just a little high - like the second half of "Before the throne. And sometimes it goes a little fast, like for Spirit of the Living God... Steve MacLean, who I got the idea from, plays the files through Audacity on his laptop and you can adjust the speed, the pitch and a whole bunch of other stuff. But I don't want to carry even more stuff to the restaurant and I don't want to muck around with audacity during the service, or spend time learning it. Well, someone told me abo

Encouragement at the Maison de la Bible

I was a little early arriving at my stop on Wednesday so I thought I'd wander about and see what photos I could take of the city centre. In the end I just enjoyed looking at the law courts and their huge water feature, and the shops across the way. I counted four (4) Pibal bicycles (Pibaux?) in the bike rack outside the law courts and generally had a good time. Then I arrived at the shop on the stroke of 10. I greeted our friendly local beggar and his friend, who come at opening time for their morning coffee, popped into the back to the loo, switched on the coffee machine - ah - there's a customer - and I haven't even turned the lights on or started up the till. He bought 100€ worth of Bibles, then the morning became very calm. Still. Not bad for the first 2 minutes. Two Mormon lads came in. Short trousers. Snotty noses. Bruised knees. Badges that said "Elder Bonnie" and "Elder Clyde". They said, "Nous cherchons des Bibles". I said, &

What is it with editors these days?

Perhaps I have misunderstood how things work in publishing? I mean, I thought an author would write a book, perhaps by hand with a pen, perhaps on a computer. If on a computer, then he would run a spell check, or the computer would auto-corrupt his text - the best means yet invented of encouraging you to reread your text before sending it off. Then I thought there followed a process of negotiation where an editor or editors would attempt to weed out unfortunate expressions, sheer, gross errors of fact, words that have no existence and deserve no existence, speling erers, would check references and citations. Then the book, purged of all that the editors could succeed in purging, would go to print... Then how come in the books I so happily and gladly review there are just plumb, stupid mistakes? For example, please tell me, what is a forebearer? The latest book refers to our forebearers. I thought it might be a joke. Sometimes in discussion I refer to the convictions shared

A busy weekend

So the weekend began with me being in Maison de la Bible from 10 till 5 on Saturday, then closing up rapidly and speeding off to speak to the Chinese group. It was great to be with them, perhaps about 10 people, one family with two small children, two pregnant ladies, the group is changing! I spoke from Colossians 1 about how the real good news of salvation in Jesus Christ and it was a good time. My journey back to Pessac was not wonderful, though. I got up from my tram seat and realised that the seat I had bene sitting in was damp, and had left some of its dampness on me. Lovely! Then bus 4 had a rowdy gang of drunk students. Binge drinking is catching on here. They were not aggressive or threatening, but they needed space to fool about. Then Sunday evening at DAN seemed to go nicely, with some of our folk back from travels, including Frances, who is back from Nigeria for a PhD. It was great to see her. The message was from Colossians 1:15-20 and it's the most wonderful

Nasal perfusions of sea-water

Well I have started. Last night and this morning so far. It is not difficult or even markedly unpleasant. Despite my aerosol being labelled "Dynamique" the water does not reach very far up my nostrils, though it does get to areas that sting a little.

MOT test

This morning I had my six-monthly checkup with my doctor. There were positive things and negative things to report : Posiitive   Blood-test  - as usual my bloods are impeccable. She reckons I have a long life ahead of me if I can only manage to avoid fast-moving vehicles. Blood-pressure  - after an initial period of uncertainty because she couldn't hear my pulse because we were talking too much, she said 13/8, that's fine. Weight  - she weighed me and pronounced herself content Breathing  - she confirmed that I am breathing and give every sign of continuing so to do for the immediate future. Flu-jab  - she approved of me having my flu-jab Negative   Breakfast She told me to resume eating breakfast. I protested that it was just carbohydrates, but she says carbohydrates are what you need in the morning. On mange le matin comme un roi, a midi comme un baron et  she said Ouais, ouais, ouais  I interjected, discouraged that my master plan f

Hermione leaves Bordeaux

Harriette was there to film it.

Book review - Songs for a Suffering King (The Grand Christ Hymn of Psalms 1 - 8), by J V Fesko

This is a book with many strengths. Fesko believes that the Bible is God's word, given by the Holy Spirit through the agency of many human authors. He believes that the Bible is authoritative and relevant for the life of the Church and of the Christian today. And he writes from these convictions, giving his book a direct and helpful character. Another great strength is Fesko's evident conviction that, as Jesus taught, the psalms all speak of Christ. He looks for Christ in each psalm, and aims to communicate the grace of Christ to his readers. How good that is! What is the point of opening up the Bible if you don't direct people to Christ? The book has eight chapters, one for each psalm, entitled: Song of the Righteous Man Song of the Lord's Messiah Song of Deliverance Song of Hope Song of Protection Song of Forgiveness Song of Vindication Song of Majesty Incidentally, seeing Christ in Psalm 8 reminds us of the delicacy of the task of Bible translation - &

We took an after-church stroll to say goodbye to the Hermione



Last night as we waited to begin the service at DAN we heard noises of conflict in the street. Some of us looked out of the doorway to see what was happening - a group of youths getting physical - and as the situation worsened I phoned the police. A reminder that the beautiful facade and peaceful streets of the city of Bordeaux hides the usual city reality of human misery and conflict.

Colossians 1:9-14


Business and having time for people

Pastoral ministry, eh! It's a rich and heady blend of deadlines and people who should be given time. I was talking about this the other day with my friend Nicodème. He was in town visiting his gorgeous little penthouse apartment in central Bordeaux and he invited us round for lunch. He doesn't know Bordeaux that well so after lunch Pat scurried back to the Maison de la Bible and I took him on a tour of my standard meet-up places (first DAN, where the church meets, then to Books and Coffee, Verde Néro and to Les Mots Bleus, the three cafés where I sometimes meet up with people, then to Maison de la Bible. I talked about how it goes through me when people say "I know how busy you are," before asking for help, a visit, whatever. Coincidentally Tim Challies, Reformed Blogger Extraordinaire, just discussed the whole issue of being frantic, being lazy, and whatever comes in between! Read his reflections here . Then yesterday I had a practical workshop on how to make

After a morning in the bookshop

where we seemed to have some rather dotty clientele today I walked with James down to the quayside to see l'Hermione (lair-mee-onn)

There is only coffee

Visit to UK churches April 2015

Alan is currently planning a visit to the UK in early April 2015, probably from around 1st April to around 17th / 21st April. Certain dates are inked in : 1st April, Borras Park, Wrexham 13 - 16 April, Leicester Conference If your church may appreciate hearing about the work in Bordeaux, especially if you are in South Wales , please get in touch !

Bordeaux Church plant and social media

It started with a little booklet circulated on how to make your sermon stay in the memories of your folk through the week by popping key paragraphs on blogs or on social media. Then George of 100-fold, our wonderful geeky colleagues in the USA, remarked that if I could work out how to schedule Facebook posts this might be useful in a student context. Then I thought that linking Twitter to Facebook gives two cracks at the whip. The trail led me back to Hootsuite, a little programme I tried years ago for the Android phone, which takes all your social media feeds, combines them into columns like in a spreadsheet, and presents them to you in one screen. The programme didn't stay on my phone long. I hate spreadsheets anyway. Too much information crammed together. No. But on the PC screen it's OK. AND it allows you to schedule twitter posts. And then Facebook will happily allow Twitter posts to appear on a Facebook page. So once a week I select short quotes as memory-joggers and

Well THOSE two days have been very different!

Yesterday was the RéseauFEF (Fédération Evangélique de France) pastorale in Toulouse. I belong to RéseauFEF by virtue of our mission, UFM/MPEF, but it took about 8 years and questions from the hierarchy (not that we have a hierarchy, but those who raised questions are those who would be in the hierarchy if we had one) before I ever went to a RéseauFEF event. There's perhaps seven of us in RéseauFEF in the Bordeaux area but they include some of my most splendid friends and colleagues, so the prospect of spending five hours bouncing down the motorway in a minibus accompanied by these worthies was compelling. On the way Sebti navigated to the church where the pastorale was to be held and graciously showed us all Toulouse' most interesting sights on the way. Either that city is much bigger than I thought, or perhaps we arrived at the church by spiralling in on it through the city in ever-decreasing circles. Anyway we got there just over 1/2 an hour late and missed the offi

Oh that's such an opportunity!

I said to Mrs Davey, "I know some folks who run an English club for kids from their neighbourhood, and I'm seeing the chap tomorrow." Then who should walk into the bookshop, but the very lady who runs that club. OK. But ships and Tarshish remind us that we ought still to think and pray it through properly!

Ca ne vous dit pas de proposer des cours d'anglais aux enfants?

"You don't fancy giving English classes to children?" said the veiled lady at the bus stop near our house. When we asked what she meant, she said "Cours d'anglais - English lessons" "We got that bit", I said, "Are you saying that you would like us to give English lessons to your children?" "Yes", she said, "and to me, too." Well it was the most unusual conversation opening so far this week. I told her we would think about it and gave her my phone number. We're thinking about it.

Book review - Can I really trust the Bible, by Barry Cooper, published by The Good Book Company

Can I really trust the Bible is part of the Questions Christians Ask series of little books published by the Good Book Company. When I say little books, I mean that it has just 72 pages. This is not a major volume on the Inspiration and Authority of the Scriptures, but a little handbook for reading on the train, the bus or the tube. But truth and helpfulness is not measured by the pound, and though the book is short it is very helpful. Using perhaps the slightly frivolous illustration of Winnie the Pooh examining a jar of honey to check if it the real thing, the book si divided into three parts : 1. Does the Bible claim to be God's word? (Does it say honey on the jar?) Here he begins with a brief look at Psalm 19 and at 2 Timothy 3:15, before very helpfully considering Jesus' attitude to the Bible. "he is completely captivated by God's word. It is written, it is written, he says". The book has small sections of information to describe the contents of the B